Not quite a perfect storm for Ferrari but nearly so. They are experiencing extreme highs and lows in Austria, starting with Charles LeClerc’s magnificent second place in the Austrian Grand Prix opener. Ferrari’s car was clearly slower than the Mercedes racing machine so all credit to LeClerc for his podium success just over a week ago.
It may be a little confusing for some that there is a second Grand Prix on the same track just a week later, called the Styrian Grand Prix – but there is a history behind this specific great race and it is the first time in sports history, that back to back Grand Prix races have been held on the same track.
Ferrari knew they had to give their team a faster car capable of giving Mercedes a run for their money. So they brought forward and introduced a wide range of updates to the Ferrari SF1000. The upgrades were originally scheduled for the Hungarian Grand Prix which is next.
And that was the start of the Ferrari nightmare. Despite these changes made to the SF1000 car, Vettel and Leclerc finished 10th and 11th respectively in qualifying. That meant Ferrari didn’t have anyone inside the first six places on the starting grid for the second week in a row.
The stopwatch rarely lies. In two successive qualifying sessions, Ferrari have not been competitive, not only against Mercedes and Red Bull but also against others, who have been generally behind them.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 14, 2020
LeClerc Goes For a Miracle
LeClerc was obviously motivated to work another miracle despite the disadvantage of the car’s engineering and on the first Styrian GP lap saw an opportunity to advance on five or six cars by overtaking Vettel on the inside.
As Leclerc tried to slip past his teammate, Vettel tried to narrow the gap and they touched.
The result was Vettel’s rear wing was hanging on by a thread and Leclerc’s front wing and floor were seriously damaged. Both cars had to limp into the pits.
Vettel was forced to retire immediately, and Leclerc was able to finish just three more laps before quitting. Leclerc showed his class by apologizing without reserve to Vettel and the whole Ferrari team after the race.
Famous for their tussles this is the second time the two racing aces have clashed on the racetrack. With just six laps to go after colliding in Brazil in 2019 both drivers ended up apologizing.
The Prancing Horse stable is in a state of great difficulty at the start of this season. Even though Ferrari holds the record for the most grand prix victories, their chances of adding to their total for a 239th Grand Prix win look very slight indeed, especially with Mercedes having Lewis Hamilton in top form with an engineering team delivering him super-fast racing machines.
Styrian Grand Prix Result
Hamilton secured a comfortable victory in the Styrian Grand Prix, winning out over his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas by 13 seconds. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came third.